Sunday, July 03, 2005

[UK] Lazy Riser Class Theory

There continues to be a diverse range of perspectives on socio-economic class within the libertarian left, the wider political milieu, and the public at large.

Even though it’s putting Marx’s cart before his horse, a satisfying theory of class can only be developed with regard to a political programme. Without some idea of the shape of the revolutionary project, a model of class is useless. Class theory plots how humanity’s massed power dispatches revolutionary objectives, and so a good one is a supreme asset.

The revolutionary class is the intersection of two sets of individuals; those whose best interests are served by the revolutionary project and those able to action the project’s tasks.

If we set ourselves a conventional 19th century objective of ending the exploitation of workers by factory owners, then we arrive at a class analysis based on the relationship between individuals and capital. Nowadays, when workers’ pensions are held in shares in other workers’ businesses, alongside a long list of other post-modern irritations, it’s no wonder that leftist class polemic is irrelevant to everyday life.

Imagine setting the revolutionary objective as the maximisation of authentic leisure. Only elitist psychopaths could stand against this primal desire, only productive workers can advance the economy towards its realisation. By checking an individual’s economic interests, their political capability and adding a notional economic success factor we can appraise their socio-economic class. Please enjoy the following truth table…

In

Economic

Interests

Capable

Success

Class

0

0

0

Lumpen 1

0

0

1

Ruling Elite

0

1

0

Lumpen 2

0

1

1

Middle Class 1

1

0

0

Lumpen 3

1

0

1

Middle Class 2

1

1

0

Working Class 1

1

1

1

Working Class 2



An obvious weakness of this model is the reliance on the observer’s subjectivity. This model points to the idea of an individual’s class as an aggregated public perception.

Organisations with specific positions are able to develop well-defined models of political class. The lack of ideological coherence within the libertarian left means that it’s hard to reach consensus on fundamentals of class and history. A movement with a declared programme and a united vision is in a much better position to develop a useful class theory, but the incredible ideological diversity within left-anarchism exists as a consequence of the inability of its factions to achieve critical mass in their own right. Advocates of the Anarchists 1926 platform dismiss its failure to grip the imaginations of the “labouring masses” at their peril.

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